Speech Delay: When To Worry And What To Do
One child has a different milestone from another. Perhaps, your friend’s child can sit as early as four months while another friend’s child can’t still sit at the age of 7 months. This doesn’t mean that the other child who has slower development can’t speak earlier than the first child. Each child has a different phase of development, and there are many factors affecting the milestone of a child. These factors are the environment, genetics, stimulation, food and medicine intake and medical condition.
There are some milestones that you don’t need to worry about especially if your child is following the recommended milestone for his age. However, if the child is way behind, then you should worry a little, but not too much because too much worrying can lead to distress.
In this article, you will learn about the speech development of a child and be able to track if your child is within the milestone he should be.
Speech Delay: When to Worry and What to Do
If every child at the same age as your child in the neighborhood speaks well at their age, then you should be worried. However, you should also check with your child’s pediatrician for further medical study. At home, you can make some observation if your child is following the milestone flawlessly. Check out if your child’s speech development matches his age.
Below 12 Months:
Your baby should speak at least a syllable of an object or some baby talk language such as cooing and babbling. It may hard to understand, but you should interact with the baby to encourage speaking. Check if the baby is not responding when you are calling his name as this may be a sign of hearing loss and you should bring him to a specialist to address the concern.
Usually, at this age, your baby can use his body for communication and speaks at least one word, but not able to understand the meaning of it.
12 Months to 17 Months:
At this age, your child must be able to speak more than one word and be able to understand the word. Some popular first words are a ball, hug, kiss, eat, boob- if your child is breastfeeding then you will often hear this word. Children at this age mimic the sounds you speak of and at this age, they are easier to teach yet also requires a lot of patience!
18 Months to 24 Months:
Your child should be able to say at least 20 words, clear or unclear words. As they grow, these words can be reached as much as 50 words and be able to combine two words. A child at this age should also be able to communicate and answered when asked simple questions whether by speaking or by pointing.
2 to 3 Years Old
From 20 words when they reach 18 months, to a hundred of words! From 2 combined words, a child can now combine at least three words and can create phrases. Your child should also be able to understand commandments and be able to follow. This is the perfect time to teach your child about colors and sizes.
What is Speech?
Speech is different from language. It is the way where sounds and words are used for verbal communication. Speech consists of the three components such as:
Articulation– this is how the speech sound is made. For example, an 18-month-old child is learning to speak of “dog”, but instead of saying “dog,” he speaks of “doc.” In this case, the child must learn how to pronounce the letter “g” to speak properly of the word “dog.”
Voice– this is where the sound of the speech is made. The voice can be misused and can be abused too. In order to prevent this, you must not let your child shouts often, and you must teach him with the right tone of voice.
Fluency– this is the rhythm of speech. This is easier to teach using shorter words.
What is Speech Delay?
If you child falls in any of the below, then your child has a speech disorder:
- Unable to speak correctly
- Unable to pronounce fluently
- Has voice problems such as husky voice or nasal voice
If your child doesn’t fall in any of the criteria above, then you don’t have to worry as your child may just have experienced speech delay. Your child speech development may be slower than other kids but in due time, he will run off the delay. Usually, a child who has a speech delay will be able to cope up with school age, but there are also some children that do not show improvement.
What are the Causes of Speech Delay?
There are many causes of speech delay such as:
- Oral-motor problems
- Oral impairments
- Ear Infections
- Hearing Loss
- Enlargement of the Adenoids
When to Worry?
You don’t need to worry that much if your child will be able to cope up at around the age of 4. In case your child still shows no improvement, then it could be a speech disorder or other serious disorder.
What to Do?
You can do your part at home such as:
- Read more often to your child, loud and clear if possible
- Communicate more often to your child, regardless the age
- Use adult words
- Encourage your child to talk about what happened the whole day
However, if these things won’t work, then it is better to approach an expert if you suspect early signs of speech delay and/or speech disorder. It is always wiser to seek the advice of health professionals to ease your worries and to prevent the possible harm it can bring to your child. The earlier you detect a speech problem of your child, the better the specialists can solve the problem.
What Will Specialist Do?
The speech-language pathologists are the doctor handling such cases. He or she will assess your child with the following:
- Receptive language
- Expressive language
- Articulation and Fluency of Speech
- Oral-motor Situation
Depending on the result, your child’s speech-language pathologists may or may not need a speech therapy.
What are the Signs and Symptoms?
The following can be a sign of speech delay and/or speech disorder according to age.:
Infant, below 12 months: unable to respond to your call.
12 Months: unable to use hand gestures such as waving with hellos and goodbyes.
18 Months: if your child prefers hand gestures than speaking and unable to mimic a sound produced by an adult.
24 Months: unable to understand simple verbal commandments.
Over 24 Months: unable to produce word combinations and simple phrases, can’t express what he needs, unable to follow simple instructions, unclear words that are very hard to understand and unusual tone of voice.
How are You Going to React?
As a parent, it is hard to admit that your child is having a speech delay. In order to ease your load, you have to learn to accept. Also, acceptance will lead to a clearer perspective, and you will be able to help your child’s journey of battling speech delay. You must be able to be strong and be hungered to improve your child’s speech development. You should also be able to motivate your child, and this will help him a lot to speak properly.